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Letter to the Editor-Tom Fletcher's 'Social Justice' opinion piece
From Joanna Larson
To understand the purpose of Tom Fletcher's recent opinion piece entitled "Social justice" as student indoctrination, one need only read the last paragraph.
He comes from the belief system of 'less learnin', and more earning!" One shouldn't be fooled when he accidentally ignores the aims of public education and dismisses the teachers that work towards those goals as 'radical, fringe and militant.'
As Chris Hedges has to say, "We have bought into this idea that education is about training and "success", defined monetarily rather than learning to think critically and to challenge. We should not forget that the true purpose of education is to make minds, not careers."
Fletcher's greatest fear is evidenced in that final paragraph, youth standing up against the growing inequality they see in Canadian society. Young people have always had a greater sense of fairness then adults. They are programmed with it. It helps them makes sense of the world around them.
Ultimately, it is this sense of fairness that people like Mr. Fletcher have come to fear. He attempts to quash it by silencing the people that encourage it. Failing that he resorts to attempts at discrediting them through name calling.
Suffice to say it hardly suits school districts attempts to confront bullying by using Fletchers work in current events or news discussions.
A concrete example of the social activism and agents of social change Mr. Fletcher and former Minister of Education George Abbott are so opposed to would be our work around Truth and Reconciliation.
Teachers are deeply committed to increasing understanding and opportunity for aboriginal students in our schools, and thus we undertook a large role in the recent Truth and Reconciliation National Event's Education Day.
The BCTF provided $100,000 in grants to aid teachers from across the province to attend, and public school teachers supervised 5,000 students at the event. I suppose this is the sort of work Fletcher would categorize as "indoctrination."
In his latest book, Joel Balkan worded the aims of teaching this way, "awakening curiosity, inspiring thought, imparting an understanding of the world, building confidence, being a moral guide and role model."
The purpose of public education has always been to awaken the civic sensibilities in youth so that they can be full participants as educated citizens in democratic society. Mr. Fletcher, these ideas are hardly radical, fringe or militant.